Support the boycott of Israeli goods
First “they” sit back and watch the destruction of homes, offices, universities, hospitals and the wanton killing of civilians by Israeli forces in Gaza. Then, when the dust has settled, “they” turn up in Egypt and offer billions for “reconstruction”. Hypocrisy doesn’t come more blatant than this.
The “they” in this instance is the so-called “international community” – the major powers and their hangers on like the Mubarak regime in Egypt, led by the United States and Britain. They gave the green light to Israel’s murderous war on Gaza, with its targeting of civilians and the use of banned weapons. So outrageous were the attacks that the Israeli state could face war crimes charges.
Even the promises of aid made in Egypt are hedged with conditions that, together with Israel’s refusal to open border crossings, undermines the pledges as quickly as they are made. For example, Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, has offered $1 billion – so long as it is channelled in a way that bypasses the Hamas government in Gaza.
At present, the United Nations says that only a quarter of food and medical supplies needed in Gaza are allowed in. Israeli border guards routinely make lorry drivers unload their entire cargo for inspection. The imminent arrival of a new extreme right-wing Israeli government will intensify the crisis. Certain to be prominent in the new government is Avigdor Lieberman, who advocates the expulsion of Palestinians who actually live inside Israel.
Waiting for the blessed “international community” to act against Israel is simply a non-starter. The Israelis occupied the West Bank and Gaza over 40 years ago and have since peppered the area with illegal settlements. In recent years, Gaza has become like a giant prison camp, its population trapped in the most crowded space on earth.
In these circumstances, it is important to support the many calls for boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel, both in Britain and throughout the world. In occupied Palestine, 180 organisation have joined together to back a boycott.
All major UK retailers sell Israeli goods, and most of them sell produce from illegal settlements in the West Bank. Details of how this is done are contained in a special report by Corporate Watch. Many goods are channelled through the Israeli exporter Carmel-Agrexco.
In a stomach-churning move, on 12 February, two days prior to Valentine's Day, the Israeli army allowed 25,000 carnation flowers grown by Palestinian growers in the Gaza Strip to cross the border into Israel, for export by Carmel-Agrexco to Holland. By then, about 70% of Gaza's carnation crop had already been lost due to the Israeli siege. The losses in flower sales suffered by growers in Gaza, who used to export 37 to 40 million carnations a year, are estimated to have already reached $4 million.
Many Agrexco flowers grown in Israel or the Occupied Territories are sold on or packed in Holland and labelled accordingly. In a court case in November 2004, the general manager of Agrexco UK at that time, Amos Orr, testified that his company markets 60%- 70% of the agricultural produce grown in Israeli settlements in the Occupied Territories.
Also on 12 February, a group of 15 women locked themselves to the gates of Carmel-Agrexco's depot in Hayes, Middlesex, to stop the delivery of Valentines roses. Carmel's offices have been subject to extensive damage by protesters over recent years and their depot occupied. Yet, the company has not been willing to make prosecutions against campaigners for fear of having their business practices exposed and questioned in court.
AWTW communications editor
3 March 2009